Category Archives: Campus Life

Churchill biopic ‘Darkest Hour’ premieres at Westminster


An advance screening of “Darkest Hour,” a film about former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, was held at Westminster on Thursday, Oct. 26.

The event began with a reception at 5:30 p.m. inside the college’s National Churchill Museum. Staff, faculty, students, alumni and museum donors known as Churchill fellows mingled and enjoyed refreshments prior to the showing of the film. Fresh Ideas provided hors d’oeuvres, and museum staff set up a wine bar and a root beer keg for the event. Outside, a red carpet led the way to the door, and spotlights lit up the night.

The film was shown inside the Church of St. Mary, the Virgin, Aldermanbury, located directly above the museum’s entrance. The church is able to seat about 180 people comfortably. An estimated 130 to 140 guests attended the event, according to Tyler Oberlag, manager of guest services and museum operations. Everyone was dressed in formal attire, and Churchill fellows donned gold medals hanging from red ribbons worn around their necks.

Darkest Hour

The church eventually filled up to near maximum capacity for the showing of the film. PHOTO BY MADISON INGRAM.

“Darkest Hour” is set in the early days of World War II, soon after Churchill had become prime minister. It focuses on Churchill’s struggle to decide between negotiating with Hitler or going to war. Playing the lead role as Winston Churchill is Gary Oldman, an English actor, filmmaker, musician and author. Oldman has been in many popular films, such as “The Dark Knight” (2008), “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012), “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011).

The Churchill family made frequent appearances at the movie set in London as the film was being produced. The director of the film, Joe Wright, had produced many motion pictures before “Darkest Hour.” His other works include “Pride & Prejudice” (2005), “Atonement” (2007), “Hanna” (2011) and “Pan” (2015).

National Churchill Museum Director and Chief Curator Tim Riley, who helped coordinate the “Darkest Hour” festivities at Westminster, said he had heard about the film about a year and a half ago. He then brought the film to Westminster by making a few calls to its producers, he said.

Museum staff members sold tickets to the event at $50 piece. Based on the estimated ticket sales, the event raised approximately $6,500 to $7,500 for the museum.

“This is a great event and a great fundraiser for the museum,” said Churchill Fellow Warren Hollrah, who graduated from Westminster in 1976 and worked in the museum from 1978-2000.

“Since 2000, the museum has changed a lot,” he said. “In 2006, $40 million was invested into renovations of the museum. It looks different.”

Thanks to donations from the Callaway County Tourism Board as well as Senior Churchill Fellow Phillip Baeckman, 50 students and faculty were able to attend the event cost free.

“Darkest Hour” will be released in theaters throughout the United States on Nov. 22.

Carolyn Perry, Westminster’s first female President, celebrated at Center for Faith and Service


On a cold, windy Tuesday afternoon, members of the Remley Women’s Center invited the Westminster Community into the cozy Center for Faith and Service building to help celebrate Dr. Carolyn Perry, Westminster’s first female president.

Having served as the college’s senior vice president since 2012 and dean of faculty since 2008, Perry assumed the role of acting president this August following the resignation of former president Dr. Benjamin Akande. In doing so, she ended an all-male streak of Westminster presidents dating back to 1855.

Now, with the selection of Dr. Fletcher Lamkin as the college’s next permanent president, Perry will soon return to her regular position. Remley’s Oct. 24 reception was held to commemorate Perry’s time as acting president and her overall contributions to the college.

On the day of the reception, the first room inside the Center for Faith and Service was filled with people of all ages. Students, professors, alumni and friends of Perry’s were present to celebrate, eating fruit and desserts, and hoping to get a few words with the guest of honor before they left. Perry positioned herself in the middle of the room, talking to anyone who wanted to chat with her.


Members of the Westminster community gathered to celebrate Perry being the college’s first female president. PHOTO COURTESY OF KHALED KHALILI.

When asked about her experience as acting president of Westminster College thus far, she explained that it has been a privilege to work in a community that is so tight-knit, loyal and committed. She said that this atmosphere has made her transition to the acting president’s position not only a less difficult process but also a fun, worthwhile experience.

She added that she was intrigued by the alteration of responsibilities that came with the change of positions and would continue to carry out those responsibilities if she remained acting president.

“I really enjoyed building the president’s team and making sure that they were supported well and worked together well,” she said. “So, I would want to continue making sure we’re all pulling together to make Westminster strong. I also really enjoy telling the story of Westminster, and I would have been happy to have had more opportunities to make Westminster’s successes known—especially among alumni and donors.”

However, Perry will, of course, be returning to her the senior vice president and dean of faculty position.

“I think the dean of faculty position might be the best one an administrator could have, because it focuses on hiring the best faculty, getting them the resources they need to do excellent work and supporting student academic endeavors,” she said. “There are plenty of headaches, as with any job, but I’m looking forward to getting back.”

Perry, who taught English for her first 17 years at Westminster and has been an adviser to Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, and to the Remley Women’s Center, also said that her favorite moments at the college revolve around her tenure as dean of faculty.

One of her favorite memories is more of an image, she said, “a picture of a number of our younger female faculty together at the Women’s History Month Conference a few years back.” She added, “I remember thinking how brilliant and vibrant and strong our female faculty are, and I was so proud that I had played a role in recruiting them and helping them find their place at Westminster.”

Perry said that it may take time for her to readjust to her dean of faculty position; however, she added that she believes she can more be effective at her position once she does settle in, as she has gained valuable skills and insights from her brief yet historic stint as Westminster’s first female president.

Lamkin aims to maintain ‘incredible’ student experience, establish sustainable financial model

Dr. Fletcher Lamkin said he plans to attend many student events as the college’s next president. He is pictured here at the Blue Jays’ Oct. 28 football game with his wife, Cindy, (middle) and Lucy Kirby, wife of former Westminster Dean of Students Pat Kirby. PHOTO COURTESY OF PAT KIRBY.


Dr. Fletcher Lamkin, who served as the president of Westminster College from 2000-2007, was appointed by Board of Trustees to the same position last month. Lamkin is replacing Dr. Carolyn Perry, who has been the college’s acting president since Aug. 18, when then-president Dr. Benjamin Akande resigned.

Lamkin said that he does not intend to have an inauguration ceremony but plans to be fully transitioned into the presidency by Thanksgiving break.

On Oct. 28, Lamkin and his wife, Cindy, stopped by Westminster to watch the Blue Jays’ football game. During the game, the president-elect talked with The Columns about his return to Fulton and his plans for his second term at Westminster.

From 2008 until earlier this fall, Lamkin presided over three other institutions in three different states, most recently, at the University of West Virginia, Parkersburg.

“I had a great job where I was … but this is where my heart is,” he said. “When I had a chance to come back, and I found that the board had voted unanimously to bring me on, I was delighted.”

Lamkin said that his love for Westminster is due largely to the college’s “great” mission and the multidimensional student experience that it facilitates.

“The one thing that’s been enduring for 166 years is that incredible student experience that we have here that does more than just academic learning – it’s all about building character, building leadership, being a good citizen,” he said. “All those ingredients are still here. People ought to feel great about being at Westminster College.”

“I had a great job where I was … but this is where my heart is.”

Despite this strong student experience and everything positive the college has to offer in Lamkin’s view, fewer people are coming to Westminster. The college experienced enrollment growth during each of Lamkin’s eight years as president – and student population expanded by 26 percent overall during that period – but recently, enrollment has been declining. In fact, with a fall semester population of 766, as reported by Director of Institutional Research Sarah Parsons, the college now has fewer than 800 students for the first time since 2002-2003.

Lamkin proposed a few strategies for reversing this trend. First, he said that he has to analyze the school’s current enrollment strategy and see how recruitment personnel are being utilized.

From there, he said that he plans to advocate word-of-mouth recruiting.

“Students need to be talking this place up, faculty need to be talking this place up, and alums need to be talking this place up, as well as the administration and the actual enrollment representatives,” he said. “Enrollment is everybody’s job.”

Finally, Lamkin said that he will focus heavily on student retention, stating, “[Enrollment] is a combination of retaining the ones you have … and attracting new students.”

Lamkin explained that his retention strategy will consist of interacting with students – at Greek houses, SGA meetings and other events – as well as assessing the quality of academic programs, administrative support and on-campus housing.

If there are issues, we’re going to correct them, and if there are things that are good, then we’re going to sustain,” he said.

However, Lamkin said the college might not be in a financial position to adequately correct negatives or sustain positives.

“We don’t have, quite honestly, a sustainable financial model to support the terrific student experience that we have here,” he said, adding, “That’s my job as the president – to make sure that we have the resources we need to do the job that we’re trying to do here.”

He said that there are two steps in establishing a sustainable financial model: using resources efficiently and acquiring additional resources.

“Since the recession of 2008, middle-class families don’t have the disposable income that they used to have, so we need to keep the costs down,” Lamkin stated. “We do that through being very efficient in the way that we spend money and use resources and being sure that we support programs that have the most bang for the buck.”

In order to get more resources, Lamkin said that the college’s administration needs to form a “strategic plan” and then reach out to potential donors.

If there are issues, we’re going to correct them, and if there are things that are good, then we’re going to sustain.”

“We need to have our ‘I’s dotted and our ‘T’s crossed and make sure that we have developed a plan that makes a lot of sense and is supportable,” he said. “And, then, with that plan you go to the people, the donors of the college, and get them to appreciate what’s here and to believe in what we’re doing.”

Lamkin said that he hopes to ultimately raise the college’s endowment to $100 million. Based on the latest figures, this would be a jump of approximately $44 million.

During his first term at Westminster, Lamkin oversaw a capital campaign that raised $80 million, a record for private colleges of Westminster’s size in Missouri, according to Westminster News. $30 million of those funds went to the renovation of Coulter Science Center.

“My experience with the wonderful Blue Jay Nation is that if they believe, they will step up, and they will support this college,” Lamkin said.

Laundry 101: A how-to guide for Westminster freshmen

Laundry piles up in Sloss Hall laundry room as students do not retrieve their loads. PHOTO BY ALLIE KENNEBECK.


When a high school graduate makes the transition to college, one of the most popular questions the incoming freshman is asked is “Do you know how to do laundry?” This is usually followed up with an unsure response such as “I believe so” or “I hope so.”

Doing laundry is a basic lifelong skill that every college student must learn to master. As seen by some of the laundry rooms in the Quad, it is clear that many freshmen still have a lot to learn about how to do their laundry, or at least how to do so in the Quad’s communal facilities. The following tips can help students do laundry more effectively and more efficiently.

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Senator Bernie Sanders delivers 58th annual Green Lecture

Sanders delivers the 58th annual John Findley Green Foundation Lecture inside Westminster’s Champ Auditorium on Sept. 21. Members of the Churchill Singers and select students and faculty members sat onstage during the speech. PHOTO BY JIM MALVEN.


U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., delivered the 58th annual John Findley Green Foundation Lecture at Westminster College on Sept. 21. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history and ran for the Democratic party nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Young conservative advocate promotes open, respectful dialogue in first event of 2017 Symposium

Dillon speaks in Hermann Lounge on Wednesday, Sept. 19. PHOTO COURTESY OF LONE CONSERVATIVE. 


Conservative journalist and political commentator Kassy Dillon spoke to an audience of Westminster students, faculty and board members on Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the first event of the 2017 Hancock Symposium.

In her talk, entitled “Campus Conservatism and Social Media,” Dillon discussed issues regarding conservatism on college campuses and explained how social media can be used as a tool for conservative and non-conservative activism. She also promoted open, respectful dialogue among all peoples on all subjects.

Dillon defined conservatism as “the idea that a well-ordered government is necessary to a well-ordered society, but is not the solution to the problem of society.”

She added, “Conservatism is based on the ideas of conserving the values of the Constitution. Government exists to defend the right of the people, not to be the source of those rights.”

Dillon argued that conservative ideals are being repressed in the world of higher education and that this repression is unhealthy for students of all political affiliations.

“Conservatism is based on the ideas of conserving the values of the Constitution.”

To support her first argument, she gave the example of what she implied to be an extreme reaction to conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro coming to speak at the University of California, Berkley, in September. Shapiro, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Buzz, was lined up to speak, but, Dillon said, excessive pushback coming from liberal-sided students, faculty and administrators led to the school charging the Shapiro organization $600,000 for security measures.

Dillon also described an incident that occurred at Hampshire College, a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts, last November. On the night before Veteran’s Day, Hampshire students pulled down an American flag and set it on fire. In response, the president of the college ordered the removal of all American flags found on campus, to avoid further controversy.

These examples highlight the pressing issue that Dillon explained throughout her talk: the difficulty that conservatives face in expressing their beliefs.

In addition, Dillon said that the restraint of certain beliefs, including conservative rhetoric, is harmful and has no place in higher education.

“College is supposed to be a place where students are exposed to new ideas,” she said. “It is not the job of a college to protect its students from ideas, but to teach them how to confront them head-on.”

She said that academia should be a place for “an open, respectful dialogue which celebrates the idea of diversity of thought,” adding, “Diversity of ideas is as important as any other kind of diversity.”

To promote political diversity for college students, Dillon founded Lone Conservative, an online platform where young, conservative-minded college students may voice their opinions and inquire about issues in our society today. Dillon created the blog to provide an easy way for conservatives to acquire the information they want or need, as well as serve as a forum for discussion and debate over certain topics.

“The Internet, and social media in particular, is a great place to connect with other conservatives, learn from each other and develop platforms,” she said. “Social media is great for political activism because it opens so many doors that were never there before.”

Dillon said that the Internet plays a vital role in the cultivation political opinions, which is why she said her blog is so essential to the millennial conservative culture.

“It is not the job of a college to protect its students from ideas, but to teach them how to confront them head-on.”

However, Dillon also spoke of some of the downsides to the use of social media in the world of politics, namely that social media can lead to gross generalizations and false conclusions.

She said that “the drive to fit ideas into 140 characters and the constant desire for attention means that both sides are pushed to further and further extremes.”

On the conservative side of the spectrum, the furthest extreme is the “alt-right.” The alt-right, which has been associated with racist and fascist ideas, is not affiliated with the official conservative party. Members of this group have been known to take the idea of freedom of speech and warp it into their own perception, which is that we should be able to speak about whatever we want, regardless of its offense to other people, Dillon said. These movements are the sources of many of the United States’ difficulties on social media and in the real world, including the Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, and many more hate crimes across the country, she added.

Dillon explicitly stated that the conservative party in no way adopts or condones the actions of extreme white nationalists, and that it is unfair to attribute the actions of such a small group to the entire the Republican Party.

Because of these misconceptions regarding the party’s platform, Dillon  explained, the Internet, although a useful tool for our education and advocacy, can be quite dangerous. The alt-right will continue to spread false conspiracies, causing people who side to the left to condemn the right even more, eventually pushing people from either party to be polar opposites of the other, she said. Dillon said that she wants to break open these barriers by cultivating true dialogue between those who differ in ideology in order to attain a more compete perception of each political standpoint.

Toward the end of her talk, Dillon stated what she believes to be the most important way to initiate change in society, and that is to simply talk about it and create dialogue that was not there before.

When asked by a Westminster student how students can “restore sanity to [the] college campus,” Dillon replied: “I think it’s important that students speak up, but do it respectfully. Talk to you professors, make friends with them. You have to speak up. Organize.”

“I think it’s important that students speak up, but do it respectfully.”

Then, in a follow-up question, another student asked how they may speak up if they are a minority. Dillon answered: “I would talk to people, have discussions. One-on-one chats are my favorite thing.”

Dillon suggested that students make relationships with those who disagree with them, in order to try to create new opinions while also attempting to learn from the opinions of others as well. She urged the students in the audience to voice their opinions and to act on their beliefs with all of their heart.

Students debate whether Trump should be impeached

Christian Payne speaks in Hermann Lounge on Friday, Oct. 6. Payne argued there are currently no grounds on which to impeach Trump. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSEPH OPOKU.


Four first-year students and Westminster Debating Society members debated in front of a crowd of students in Hermann Lounge on Friday, Oct. 6, whether U.S. President Donald Trump should be impeached. Jesse Calvert and Ian Meyer argued that Trump should be impeached immediately, while Christian Payne and Joshua Danbury-Nolan asserted that there are no grounds on which to impeach Trump at this point in time.

Each side of the debate had five minutes to give an opening statement, three minutes to cross-examine the opposition, 30 seconds to respond to the cross-examination, three minutes to make a rebuttal and two minutes to give closing remarks. Debating Society Faculty Adviser Dr. Kali Wright-Smith moderated the discussion.

Impeachment refers to the passing of formal legal charges against a government officer by the House of Representatives. If a simple majority of representatives agree to impeach the officer, the officer is tried by the Senate and removed from office if found guilty in a two-thirds majority vote. The U.S. Constitution states that officers may be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Calvert gave the opening statement for the affirmative side. He said that the impeachment of Trump would be “beneficial and just.”


Students listen as Calvert presents the case for Trump’s immediate impeachment. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSEPH OPOKU.

Calvert said that Trump has been accused of seven different impeachable offenses, including colluding with Russian officials to boost his presidential campaign and obstructing justice in a resulting investigation of the alleged collusion. On the latter point, Calvert specifically referenced Trump’s dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey, who was involved in the investigation.

“Trump is abusing his powers to avoid impeachment,” Calvert stated. “As college students, we cannot prove that Trump has committed all of these crimes, but we can prove that he doesn’t want the truth found out.”

When asked by Danbury-Nolan in cross-examination how advocating Trump’s impeachment is fair when it is unclear whether Trump has actually committed any impeachable offenses, Calvert replied that impeachment and the subsequent trial would allow for clarity.

“As college students, we cannot prove that Trump has committed all of these crimes, but we can prove that he doesn’t want the truth found out.” — Jesse Calvert

Payne delivered his team’s opening statements. He explained that he and Danbury-Nolan, both students from the University of Winchester, do not necessarily believe that Trump should never be impeached, rather that he should not be impeached now. In fact, they said that they do not fully support Trump’s policies and joked about being glad to be going back to the United Kingdom after the end of the semester.

Regardless, Payne said that impeachment should be delayed at least until special counsel Robert Mueller finishes investigating Trump’s alleged affairs with Russia, or until any other evidence of impeachable crimes committed by Trump can be collected.

“We are asking you for one thing,” Payne said. “Time.”

Payne added that Trump has the right to fire officials such as Comey and that Comey’s dismissal does not constitute obstruction of justice, per se.

“We are asking you for one thing,” Payne said. “Time.”

Calvert objected in his cross-examination of Payne that a vote of impeachment does not require extensive evidence.

Payne agreed but pointed out that several political commentators called for former president Barack Obama to be impeached when he was in office. Payne cited an article from the Atlantic that summarizes potential grounds for the impeachment of Obama laid out by reporter Aaron Klein in a 2013 book. In the book, Klein questions whether Obama bypassed Congress in passing his healthcare plan and immigration policy, whether National Security surveillance monitoring under Obama was legal or ethical, and whether the Obama administration acted with integrity in Syria.

Payne said that these and similar arguments for Obama’s impeachment were ridiculous and that an impeachment of Trump on the day of the debate would be just as ridiculous as an impeachment of Obama during his presidency.

In the affirmative side’s rebuttal, Meyer claimed that there are reasons to impeach Trump now, and that although Trump had the right to fire Comey, the issue is not whether Trump had the right to do so but whether he should have done so.

Danbury-Nolan gave the rebuttal for the opposition, in which he declared that an immediate impeachment of Trump would violate Trump’s right to due process, as there is no evidence of any impeachable activity yet.

Calvert took the opportunity in his closing statement to criticize this point, restating that impeachment is only the first step in the process of the potential removal of an officer and that Trump would still receive a fair trial if he were impeached.

“They claim to care about due process, but we care about it a little more than they do, because we understand it,” he said.

Payne closed his team’s argument by telling the audience to “consider the consequences” of an imminent impeachment of Trump for the justice system.

“[Imminent] impeachment would lower the bar and weaponize the system,” he said.

Prior to the debate, students used the website Mentimeter to vote whether Trump should be impeached. Forty of 54 students (74 percent) voted “yes,” and 14 (26 percent) voted “no.”

After hearing both sides’ arguments, students voted again – a total of 53 this time. Thirty-two (60 percent) voted “yes,” while 21 (40 percent) voted no.

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